Thursday, April 16, 2015

Love that chartmanship!

Chartmanship is a sub-branch of how to lie with statistics.  In the example below the trick is to put up a long series that makes recent years look trivial. You are supposed not to notice that, while there was some warming in the 20th century, temperatures in the 21st century have been flat.  The facts are there in the chart but are swamped by other details.  But you can see it if you look carefully.

And note that the "record" temperature is only higher than the previous "record" by three one hundredths of one degree.  Utterly trivial and highly artificial.  The accuracy of global temperature measurement is just not that good.  Warmists are very devious folks

Global temperature records keep melting as Japan declares March the hottest on record

The average air temperature over land and sea was 0.31 degrees above the 1981-2010 average, eclipsing the previous record anomaly of 0.28 degrees set in 2010.

Compared with the 20th century, temperatures last month were 0.76 degrees above average, the agency said.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is likely to release its March readings in coming days. Last month, the agency said both the first two months of 2015 and the 12 months to February were the hottest in 136 years of records.  [But by how much?  By less than one degree]


The great God MAY is worshipped again

Sightings of dolphins in Scottish waters up  -- and that MAY be due to global warming.  But it MAY not be too.  Why do science when you can guess?  Many marine species show wide population fluctuations from time to time -- usually for unknown reasons.  The waters around the British Isles seem to be warming more than waters elsewhere but again nobody knows why.  Something to do with cycles in ocean currents, most probably. The only thing clear is that it is NOT a global phenomenon

Encounters with common dolphins off the west of Scotland have more than doubled over a decade, according to experts.

And now research is under way to find out why, with scientists proposing that climate change may have caused the surge in numbers.

Common dolphins were once a rare sight in the Hebrides, preferring warmer waters found further south, leading experts to believe that global warming has led to pods moving north.

Monitoring by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust teams has seen the number of encounters with common dolphins increase by 68 per cent over the past 12 years.

The dolphins come to the Hebrides in spring to take advantage of seasonal food stocks, travelling in large groups and sometimes forming ‘super-pods’ of thousands of individuals.

While they were once drawn to warmer waters above 10°C south of the area, climate change is causing sea surface temperatures in the Hebrides to rise by around 0.5 °C a decade.

And warmer water species appear to be colonising new areas further north or closer to shore, the trust said.

The shift north could be creating new opportunities for the common dolphins to find food in new areas, but may mean the species is competing for fish with other types of dolphin or seabirds.


No, global warming is not going to take away your fish and chips

Chris Mooney is a science popularizer who can be relied on to put a Green/Left spin on what he writes.  This time however there is only about a 2% spin, with a Warmist scare being competently debunked below

Nowhere do people love fish and chips more than in the United Kingdom, where the National Federation of Fish Friers calls it “the undisputed National dish of Great Britain” and claims sales of 1.2 billion pounds Sterling per year.

No wonder, then, that when a new study came out yesterday seeming to suggest that the dramatic warming of North Sea waters due to climate change could threaten stocks of fish like haddock — one of the leading “fish” components of the dish, along with cod — there was something of a media freakout.

“Global warming could make haddock and chips a thing of the past,” blared the UK Mirror. “Fish and chips on the brink of extinction due to warming seas,” added International Business Times. Many other headlines suggested more or less the same.

The study itself didn’t say this — and a key fact raises considerable reason for doubt about these headlines. Namely, whatever happens in the North Sea, much of the fish that winds up in UK servings of fish and chips isn’t caught there at present. Most of the cod and haddock consumed in the form of fish and chips in the UK instead come from the Barents Sea and Iceland, according to Seafish, a joint industry and government organization set up to ensure sustainable fish stocks.

That doesn’t mean the new research is unimportant — and it is indeed bad news, when interpreted properly. But the alarmist media headlines call to mind the buzz last year about Chipotle supposedly considering discontinuing guacamole because of climate-related changes in food costs — a story the company had to debunk on Twitter.

Let’s first go to the research itself. The study was published in a top journal, Nature Climate Change, by University of Exeter biosciences researcher Louise Rutterford and her colleagues. It doesn’t say anything directly about the loss of fish and chips.

Instead, the study begins with some crucial background observations: The North Sea has seen a staggering warming since the 1980s, “four times faster than the global average.” And this has already meant that catches of “cold-adapted” fish species, like haddock, have declined by half — even as catches of warm water loving intruders have gone up by “a factor of 2.5.”

But we’re only at the beginning of the projected warming. So the researchers used a novel model that took into account both climate projections and fisheries and other environmental data to study how distributions of the top ten most common North Sea bottom dwelling fish would change as warming of the North Sea continues over the next 50 years.

The fish species studied were cod, dab, haddock, hake, lemon sole, ling, long rough dab, plaice, saithe, and whiting. They accounted for 68 percent of fish caught commercially in the area in the last three decades, the study says. And the paper found that many of these species would not be able to shift their habitats to deeper, cooler waters in order to weather the changes that were coming — simply because they had already tried that adaptive strategy in past decades and it had been “largely exhausted.”

The study instead found that the fish might have to, in effect, weather in place, and face an additional 3.2 degrees Celsius of potential warming by 2100. ”The ecological consequences are unknown,” the study noted, especially since the fish could face invasions of competing warmer water species.

“Fish will either need to change their ecology (e.g. diet and habitat) to move, their physiology (e.g. metabolism and reproduction) to stay put and acclimate to a further 2 C warming, or decline,” explains study co-author Stephen Simpson, a biologist at the University of Exeter, by email.

Based on the research, then, many of these North Sea species could indeed face serious challenges. And that’s surely why the study was newsworthy, especially in the UK. But where did people read into this the idea that this would take away fish and chips?

The answer appears to the press release for the study — “Warming seas pose habitat risk for fishy favorites” — which was fairly cautious, but did set journalists down this path with a quotation at the end from Simpson:

Our models predict cold water species will be squeezed out, with warmer water fish likely to take their place. For sustainable UK fisheries, we need to move on from haddock & chips and look to Southern Europe for our gastronomic inspiration.

Note the phrase “sustainable UK fisheries” – if seafood in the UK is to be sourced from the North Sea, then yes, the new research might suggest a looming challenge to making fish and chips from fish caught in these waters.

But this ignores the matter of imports: Cod and haddock for fish and chips in the UK today mostly do not come from the North Sea. According to the website of the UK’s National Federation of Fish Friers:

"A total of 62% of fish sold in fish and chip shops is cod and 25% is haddock. 90% of shops use FAS [Frozen at Sea] fillets – these fish are caught by large modern trawlers operating in carefully managed fishing grounds in the icy, clear Arctic waters of the Barents Sea and North Atlantic, caught by Icelandic, Norwegian, Russian and Faroese vessels. Stringent, science-based and strictly enforced regulations have ensured good management of cod and haddock stocks in these waters, and the catches from this area accounts for 97% of the total Northern Hemisphere cod quota."

To check into this further, I contacted the Edinburgh-based Seafish, a UK-based body funded by industry through a levy on catch, but originally set up by government to ensure sustainable fisheries. The answer was consistent with the above statement.

“Cod and haddock stocks in the North Sea are at very healthy levels and the UK fishing industry places great importance on careful management of fish stocks for future generations,” said the organization’s trade marketing manager Andy Gray. “However, to meet demand, approximately 95% of the cod that we consume in the UK is actually imported from Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.”

As for haddock, a Seafish fact sheet explains that except for in Scotland, most of what is consumed tends to come not from the North Sea but from Iceland and the Barents Sea. Indeed, both cod and haddock count among the UK’s top five imported fish species, according to Seafish.

So it looks like whatever happens in the North Sea, the UK is bringing in a large volume of fish imports from different regions, especially colder and more northerly ones. That’s not to say that other fisheries aren’t also potentially subject to impacts from climate change — but that wasn’t the focus of the current research.

I also contacted the original researchers, noting that I was having a hard time directly connecting their research with the issue of fish and chips availability, due to the fact that most fish served as fish and chips in the UK seems to come from abroad.

Lead author Louise Rutterford responded by email, noting that the fish that she studied do represent 68 percent of the commercial North Sea catch. So there could indeed be a need for dietary shifts as climate change progresses. Rutterford also called the North Sea a “canary in the coalmine” since it is seeing such a rapid change in climate.

However, she acknowledged that “in terms of where fish and chips come from you’re right, since we still want to eat traditional colder water fish much of it has to be imported since the North Sea has experienced massive stock reductions due to fishing pressure and now much tighter management means less is landed.”

“The current situation is that most of what we eat in the UK we import, and most of what we catch we export to mainland Europe,” added Simpson by email. “Our diet has remained static while the fish have moved.”

So, in sum — global warming is going to change the world in many ways. And that often won’t be good for flora and fauna — those we eat, and also those we don’t. Moreover, as species shift ranges in response to changing temperatures, what counts as “local” food in a given place may also change, perhaps a great deal.

But that doesn’t mean every media doom story about climate change is true. The research in question does present cause for concern — and warmer seas will surely imperil many species. But it seems doubtful, based in this study alone, that fish and chips is going anywhere any time soon.


The Arctic methane story yet again

A refreshing change below.  The authors say that subsurface methane gas will NOT act as a greenhouse gas

Methane, the principle component in natural gas, is usually produced by organic material decomposing.

But there is another form of the deadly gas, dubbed abiotic methane, that is created by chemical reactions in the crust beneath the seafloor.

Now scientists have found vast deep water gas hydrates in the Arctic that are reservoirs for abiotic methane – a gas which is 20 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

The reservoirs are secure, and scientists don't believe they will impact climate change. Instead, they say similar formations could someday be used to store methane, that can later be used as fuel.

One reservoir was recently discovered on the ultraslow spreading Knipovich ridge, in the deep Fram Strait of the Arctic Ocean.

'This ultraslow spreading ridge shows that the Arctic environment is ideal for this type of methane production,' said Joel Johnson associate professor at the University of New Hampshire.

The Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment (Cage) estimates that up to 15,000 gigatonnes of carbon may be stored in the form of hydrates in the ocean floor.

'But this estimate is not accounting for abiotic methane. So there is probably much more,' said Cage director Jürgen Mienert.

Methane produced by serpentinisation can escape through cracks and faults, and end up at the ocean floor, causing a concern for future global warming.

But in the Knipovich Ridge it is trapped as gas hydrate in the sediments.

'In other known settings the abiotic methane escapes into the ocean, where it potentially influences ocean chemistry,' says Johnson.

'But if the pressure is high enough, and the subsea floor temperature is cold enough, the gas gets trapped in a hydrate structure below the sea floor.'

Bünz says that there are many places in the Arctic Ocean with a similar tectonic setting as the Knipovich ridge.

Rather than causing a concern, the study claims that active tectonic environments may serve as a stable area for long-term storage of methane carbon in deep-marine sediments.


Universities: the environmentalist enemy within

Most students and lecturers are confident they can spot threats to academic freedom. In the UK, there have been petitions, letters to the press and Twitter campaigns against the government’s proposed anti-terror legislation and the onus it will put on universities to monitor external speakers and supposedly vulnerable students. Similar proposals in Canada are also being met with protest. In America, there are longstanding complaints against tighter restrictions placed on the allocation of research funds post 9/11. In Hong Kong, the threat to academic freedom is said to come from the Beijing government. All around the world, many in higher education are quick to decry the undue influence of big business or wealthy private donors on the direction of scholarship. The verbal tic of ‘neoliberalism’ is used to alert fellow sympathisers to the potential danger.

Everywhere, threats to academic freedom that emerge from outside the university are triumphantly exposed and, thankfully, challenged. However, the satisfaction that comes with signing a petition or a bit of forceful re-tweeting can give a false sense of mission accomplished. In reality there are many restrictions on what can and can’t be said in higher education today. Academics often compromise and conform to satisfy the demands of student customers, peer reviewers and funding councils. They self-censor so as not to breach institutional equality and diversity policies, speech codes and safe spaces. Thinking out loud, and ultimately thinking itself, is checked and brought into line with the dominant green, feminist, state-enamoured perspective.

Pressure to self-censor and conform is rarely outed as a threat to academic freedom because it emerges from within universities, and more specifically from well-meaning fellow staff and students. A recently published report from the American National Association of Scholars (NAS) raises important questions about the threat to academic freedom that comes from the orthodoxies built up around the issue of environmentalism. As James Woudhuysen explored on spiked, Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism reveals how, ‘over nearly 25 years’, the campus sustainability movement (CSM) and its elite backers have ‘succeeded in transforming much of the curriculum and the practice of US higher education’.

Sustainability provides a comprehensive account of the many ways often well-funded green interest groups pose a threat to academic freedom. It suggests green-backed restrictions are not accidental but integral to the politics of sustainability, which assumes ‘curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations’. The report’s central argument is that sustainability on campus has become an all-consuming tyranny that aims to shape the thinking and behaviour of academics and students. Furthermore, it is a movement that brooks no dissent.

The authors of Sustainability are careful not to take any position on the existence of anthropomorphic global warming. Instead they argue that ‘all important ideas ought to be open to reasoned debate and careful examination of the evidence’. Indeed, for over a century scepticism and the ultimate contestability of all truth claims underpinned not just the scientific method but the entire liberal academic project. Advancing and challenging truth claims made criticism a meaningful exercise and intellectual progress possible.

The sustainability movement, ‘whose declared position is that the time for debate is over and that those who persist in raising basic questions are “climate deniers”’, adds to the myriad attacks on the pursuit of knowledge that have come from within universities over the past four decades. Campus environmentalists can easily jettison fundamental tenets of the academic project because, as the NAS report reminds us, ‘sustainability is not a discipline or even a subject area. It is an ideology.’ As such, the intellectual liberty to question everything is not welcomed as the way to advance knowledge but rather poses a threat to the central beliefs and values of environmentalism.

When higher education becomes separated from the aims of advancing new knowledge and rigorously critiquing existing understanding, it is left in search of a mission. This is where the campus sustainability movement comes into its own with a raft of values for students and academics alike to take on board, with success measured in the inculcation of behaviour changes. Sustainability outlines numerous ways that campus busybodies seek to nudge everyone into making eco-friendly lifestyle choices, from doing away with trays in the canteen to the edict that students should study in well-populated areas of the library so as to minimise the use of lighting.

Green league tables that rank universities in a national competition to promote recycling and minimise resource use are now common in the UK as well as in the US. In Britain, the NUS-backed Green Impact Project encourages teams of staff and students to compete for points gained through making behaviour changes such as ‘meat-free Monday’ and ‘walk-on Wednesday’. The NAS are absolutely correct to demand universities stop nudging and ‘leave students the space to make their own decisions about sustainability’ because ‘the decision of a college to “nudge” rather than persuade sounds a note of disdain for the right of students to make up their own minds’. At present the peer pressure of eco-nudging carries weight because instead of hearing counterarguments to the sustainability movement in their lectures, students see faculty succumbing to the requirement that they ‘report yearly on their efforts to advance sustainability’ through their teaching.

Scholars seeking to challenge such restrictions on their academic freedom and the orthodoxies that have built up around the sustainability movement more broadly often face difficulties from their own colleagues. The NAS report points out the long ‘history of efforts to suppress the publication and expression of contrary views’ through processes of peer review. Academics soon learn that securing publications and promotion depend upon conforming to disciplinary and institutional norms.

The NAS report notes that those who do raise difficult questions often face a ‘tyranny of transparency’ where freedom of information requests are used to get ‘deniers’ to reveal details of private email exchanges and funding sources. Ironically, such demands are frequently made under the guise of academic freedom. These attempts to redefine academic freedom enact a double standard: scholars who go along with the consensus and receive funding from climate-change charities and campaign groups are held to a different standard than those who do not. If knowledge, and not values, was the driving force of the academy then ideas would be judged on their merit and not on the context in which they were produced.

The NAS report provides a timely and badly needed corrective to the illiberal campus sustainability movement. It reminds faculty and students of the imperative to question everything rather than accept ‘doctrinaire declarations’. We need to be suspicious of all attempts to promote values antithetical to intellectual liberty. Most important of all, Sustainability reminds us that sometimes threats to academic freedom do not come from outside the academy but from within.


What’s the True Cost of Wind Power?

Depending on which factors are included, estimates for the cost of wind power vary wildly. On the low end, the financial advisory firm Lazard claims wind costs $59 per megawatt-hour. On the high side, Michael Giberson at the Center for Energy Commerce at Texas Tech University suggests the it’s closer to $149. Our analysis in an upcoming report explores this wide gap in cost estimates, finding that most studies underestimate the genuine cost of wind because they overlook key factors.

All estimates for wind power include the cost of purchasing capital and paying for operations and maintenance (O&M) of wind turbines. For the studies we examined, capital costs ranged from $48 to $88 per megawatt-hour, while O&M costs ranged from $9.80 to $21 per megawatt-hour.

Many estimates, however, don’t include costs related to the inherent unreliability of wind power and government subsidies and mandates. Since we can’t ensure the wind always blows, or how strongly, coal and natural gas plants must be kept on as backup to compensate when it’s calm. This is known as baseload cycling, and its cost ranges from $2 to $23 per megawatt-hour.

This also reduces the environmental friendliness of wind power. Because a coal-fired or natural gas power plant must be kept online in case there’s no wind, two plants are running to do the job of one. These plants create carbon emissions, reducing the environmental benefits of wind. The amount by which emissions reductions are offset by baseload cycling ranges from 20 percent to 50 percent, according to a modeling study by two professors at Carnegie Mellon University.

While the backup plants are necessary to ensure the grid’s reliability, their ability to operate is threatened by wind subsidies. The federal dollars encourage wind farm owners to produce power even when prices are low, flooding the market with cheap electricity. That pushes prices down even further and makes it harder for more reliable producers, such as nuclear plants, that don’t get hefty subsidies to stay in business.

For example, the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant in Wisconsin and the Yankee Nuclear Plant in Vermont both switched off their reactors in 2013. Dominion Energy, which owned both plants, blamed the artificially low prices caused by the PTC as one of the reasons for the shutdown.

As more reliable sources drop off and wind power takes their place, consumers are left with an electrical infrastructure that is less reliable and less capable of meeting demand.

Lost in transmission

Another factor often overlooked is the extra cost of transmission. Many of America’s wind-rich areas are remote and the turbines are often planted in open fields, far from major cities. That means new transmission lines must be built to carry electricity to consumers. The cost of building new transmission lines ranges from $15 to $27 per megawatt-hour.

In 2013, Texas completed its Competitive Renewable Energy Zone project, adding over 3,600 miles of transmission lines to remote wind farms, costing state taxpayers $7 billion.

Although transmission infrastructure may be considered a fixed cost that will reduce future transmission costs for wind power, these costs will likely remain important. Today’s wind farms are built in areas with prime wind resources. If we continue to subsidize wind power, producers will eventually expand to sub-prime locations that may be even further from population centers. This would feed demand for additional transmission projects to transport electricity from remote wind farms to cities.

The final bill comes to…

Finally, federal subsidies and state mandates also add significantly to the cost, even as many estimates claim these incentives actually reduce the cost of wind energy. In fact, they add to it as American taxpayers are forced to foot the bill. According to Giberson, federal and state policies add an average of $23 per megawatt-hour to the cost of wind power.

That includes the impact of state mandates, which end up increasing the cost of electricity on consumer power bills. California is one of the most aggressive in pushing so-called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), requiring the state to consume 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Overall electricity prices in states with RPS are 38 percent higher than those without, according to the Institute for Energy Research, a non-profit research group that promotes free markets.

The best estimate available for the total cost of wind power is $149 per megawatt-hour, taken from Giberson’s 2013 report.

It is difficult to quantify some factors of the cost of wind power, such as the cost of state policies. Giberson’s estimate, however, includes the most relevant factors in attempting to measure the true cost of producing electricity from wind power.

In future reports, Strata will explore the true cost of producing electricity from solar, coal, and natural gas. Until those reports are completed, it is difficult to accurately compare the true cost of wind to other technologies, as true cost studies have not yet been completed.

Blowing in the wind

The high costs of federal subsidies and state mandates for wind power have not paid off for the American public. According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, wind energy receives a higher percentage of federal subsidies than any other type of energy while generating a very small percentage of the nation’s electricity.

In 2010 the wind energy sector received 42 percent of total federal subsidies while producing only 2 percent of the nation’s total electricity. By comparison, coal receives 10 percent of all subsidies and generates 45 percent and nuclear is about even at about 20 percent.

Wind gobbles up the largest share of subsidies yet produces little power.

But policymakers at the federal and state level, unfortunately, have decided that the American people will have renewable energy, no matter how high the costs. As a result, taxpayers will be stuck paying the cost of subsidies to wealthy wind producers.

Meanwhile, electricity consumers will be forced to purchase the more expensive power that results from state-level mandates for renewable energy production. Although such policies may be well intended, the real results will be limited freedom, reduced prosperity and an increasingly unreliable power supply.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Anonymous said...

The "Chartmanship" article fails to mention the Starting point problem as well. The 1850 to 1870 timeframe represents the acknowledged end of a 500 year period known as the Little Ice Age (LIA), so after 5000 years of cooling how many years and how much warming would you expect to follow?

Picking a starting date close to the end of the LIA deliberately includes warming from the recovery from that event.

Anonymous said...

Re: Cost of Wind
Often ignored is the increased cost of everything you buy that uses electricity in production and distribution. That includes the cost for lights and refrigeration in your grocery store, and almost everything else.
It's not just your electric bill!

Anonymous said...

I tried to use my Wordpress login as "Slywolfe" to post the above comment "Re: Cost of Wind" but I was unable to have my login recognized.